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Disinfecting vinyl floors during COVID-19

by Ofentse Sefolo
Disinfecting vinyl floors during COVID-19

With more than 50 years of experience in the local and international flooring industry, Denver Coleman, Chairman of Polyflor SA, provides guidelines on how Polyflor vinyl flooring can be disinfected during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the safety of building occupants.

My client has vinyl flooring installed and they want to know how to properly disinfect the floors during the pandemic?” Thabo Malambane, North West Province.

In many instances, disinfecting with the right products will eliminate COVID-19 from floors, but it’s important to remember that normal cleaning before disinfecting should be carried out to ensure the disinfecting process achieves maximum benefit. Cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes – but they are equally important. Here’s a brief overview of the differences between the two:

Disinfection refers to the removal of microorganisms such as bacteria, but it is only effective if the equipment or surface is thoroughly cleaned with a detergent solution beforehand.

Cleaning refers to the removal of contaminants including dust, soil, large numbers of micro-organisms and the organic matter that shields them, such as blood and other bodily fluids, by combining a suitable detergent with water.

Both pH neutral and alkaline detergents contain cleaning properties that effectively remove soil and organic matter, and disinfectants contain the active ingredients that remove and kill the microorganisms. Effective cleaning is therefore an integral part of any decontamination programme. Without cleaning, soil and organic matter can affect the active ingredients of the disinfectant and reduce its efficacy. Organic matter can also create a barrier that prevents the disinfectant from removing the microorganisms, which leads to infection transmission.

Doing either cleaning or disinfection in isolation doesn’t work. In essence, you’ll only be doing half a job. I’ve had many constructive debates over the years with various Infection Control departments about this and their interest generally seems to be only in disinfecting and PPM numbers (parts per million) recorded. We have seen filthy floors with germ count figures recorded within the set limits. Too often, disinfectant is sprayed on every available surface and half of that finds its way onto the floor, leaving a sticky residue on a dirty floor that provides a breeding ground for germs.

It is safe to use both alcohol-based sanitisers and most leading tablet and liquid disinfectants with Polyflor vinyl, but it is crucial that the floors are properly cleaned before the sanitisers are applied. The floors also need to be thoroughly rinsed after the disinfectant has passed its efficacy peak and before the solution has dried to avoid any staining. Chlorine-based disinfectant solutions left for too long have even been seen to oxidise the rubber on shoe soles, which can lead to plasticiser migration between rubber shoe soles and the PVC in the floor causing irreversible marking.

Fortunately, vinyl is the benchmark in hygienic floor coverings and provides the benefit of optimum cleanability and ease of maintenance.

For more information on cleaning methods, equipment recommendations and suitable detergents and disinfectants approved for use on Polyflor ranges, contact Polyflor SA:
Tel: +27 (11) 609 3500 (speak to Blythe or Wendy)
Email: marketing@polyflor.co.za
Website: www.polyflor.co.za

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